Examination of Witnesses (Questions 100-104)|
9 MARCH 2004
Q100 Christine Russell: Are you confident
that Royal Mail will be making those contingency plans?
Mr Morris: Not at this moment,
Chairman, as much as I would like, but discussions are going on
with my staff over the next couple of days, and I recognise that
local managers are responding as best they are able to in the
circumstances that they have found themselves placed in.
Q101 Chairman: So you would very much
like us to pursue these questions when we see the Royal Mail?
Mr Crawford: Yes, Chairman.
Mr Morris: A little encouragement
would not come amiss.
Q102 Christine Russell: What if your
nightmare scenario comes true and, for some reason, you have to
re-run an election? Have you discussed that with your insurers?
Mr Morris: Yes, Chairman, a couple
of us took part in discussions with our potential insurers at
the end of last week. There is a real issue around the scale and
scope of the insurance that is required. We are hopeful that the
company that we are discussing with will provide that insurance,
but if not we have asked the Department of Constitutional Affairs
to indemnify us because, as we have made clear this morning, many
of us are actively working anticipating the responsibilities that
legally will come when the orders, acts, bills, etc are passed.
Q103 Christine Russell: Have you had
a response yet from the Department?
Mr Morris: The Department have
indicated that they will consider that. I think we expect them
to cover it if the insurance is not in place imminently. Of course,
I have to emphasise that in this respect, just as we are personally
appointed so we are personally liable. I think those of us who
are returning officers have a strong awareness of that fact.
Q104 Chairman: There are not many returning
officers who have had to re-run elections, are there? So to be
one of the first is not the sort of accolade that you would be
Mr Morris: I think the experience
of our colleague in Winchester in 1997 is enough to remind us
not to want to repeat it, Chairthose of us who know him.
It is a very serious issue and quite obviously that is not the
only aspect. Clearly we need to be properly insured and we already
are for all the everyday thingspublic liability and employer's
liability for the staff that we have (many hundreds of those,
in many cases). That in itself is a significant business but is
not, probably, the point of the question.
Chairman: Can I thank you very much for